PIZZA

PG-13
Reviews

You need good ingredients for good results, and filmmaker Mark Christopher's (54) Pizza doesn't deliver. His half-baked script-about a long night's journey into a day of reckoning as experienced by an unlikely pizza delivery duo-has zero authenticity. Even performances, which could have provided spark, are wooden at best, unbelievable at worst.

Key players are an odd couple of small-town denizens and misfits who end up delivering pizza and bonding on one fateful night and early morn. Ethan Embry is the lost Matt, a hunky guy who makes the rounds because he can't figure out what else to do, and Kylie Sparks is chubby teen outcast Cara-Ethyl, who meets up with Matt when he delivers pizza to her 18th birthday party that no one attends.

The two actors have absolutely nothing to bite into beyond being aimless (Embry) and fat (Sparks). Together they are adrift in a clichéd Middle American community rife with horny guys, mean girls, colorful oddballs, and dysfunctional families meant to explain a lot but which never do.

Matt, 13 years on his dreary job, was full of promise as a doctor's son. Cara-Ethyl, a college-bound brain but otherwise a familiar high-school loser, is an object of ridicule yet steeled to handle all the assaults. Over the course of the film, the duo encounter Matt's decadent roommate, creeps at the pizza shop, a cliquey group of misbehaving and taunting teen customers, club kids, and an assortment of eccentrics.

Embry's interpretation, leavened with plenty of mugging, suggests that of an exploitation star from the '60s or '70s, with just as much credibility. He's a Matthew McConaughey without the charm. Sparks' character so lacks believability, it's all too easy to let the mind roam and ponder why an appealing and talented young actor has gone so very zaftig.

Clichés and problems don't stop there. Pizza has a tired, generic rock soundtrack and an occasional grainy look that could slow the DV revolution. Much of the direction needs desperately to be ratcheted downward and the Pennsylvania locations won't draw traffic to the area.

Pizza, made in 2004 but reheated, surprises only with the number of producers and familiar behind-the-camera names involved with this effort, suggesting that too many cooks spoil broth and also do a number on pizza.

-Doris Toumarkine